Jesus had enemies…and they crucified Him. Yet, as we know, He had the ultimate victory in the end. But because God loved the world so much that He sent Jesus to die, His Son did not leave the earth without praying for those who were responsible for His death. Jesus, who told us to love and pray for our enemies, demonstrated the ultimate gift of love while hanging on the cross: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34a). Jesus prayed for His enemies…how can we do less?
One of the most amazing commands of Christ is to love our enemies. In our flesh, we naturally want to retaliate or fight back when we are treated unkindly or persecuted. Jesus preached forgiveness and mercy: “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful” (Luke 6:36). His lifestyle demonstrated grace, that ours might also. He took His command one step further, adding another level of difficulty: “Pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:44b).
Jude also spoke about the importance of mercy: “Be merciful to those who doubt; snatch others from the fire and save them…” (Jude 1:22). Because of God’s mercy, we were saved. We must extend His mercy to those who are still enemies of God, so that they might also receive what we have been given.
Merciful God, how blessed it is to walk with a kingdom mindset…to see those who mistreat me as people You love and care about even though they have caused deep woundedness. Give me a gentle spirit that is pleased to minister to those who damage me or speak ill of me. Allow me the grace to bless them and pray for them so that You will receive honor and glory and praise!
Adapted from the article Loving People into God’s Kingdom through Prayer by Kim Butts, co-author of Pray Like the King: Lessons from the Prayers of Israel’s Kings. This book is available at prayershop.org. Use the code CONPSP3 at checkout to receive an additional 10% discount.
This week, meditate on Psalm 42 each day. Today, praise God as the one who quenches your deepest spiritual thirst (42:1-2). Thank him for being the living water in your life. Confess times in your life when you’ve passed by God’s streams of water and settled for Satan’s stale pond instead. Commit yourself to quenching your thirst in the living God alone. Ask him to meet with you in prayer today.
Pray that your own thirst for a closer relationship with God might draw others to him. Ask God to get you out of the way so that they might see Jesus clearly and drink deeply of him.
“Whether we like it or not, asking is the rule of the kingdom.” —Charles H. Spurgeon
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Connection (Devotions for Everyday Life) © 2014 is published daily by Harvest Prayer Ministries.